BBQ Celebration: Spring winds blow clouds of smoke into Osage City – Osage County Online | Osage County News

BBQ Celebration: Spring winds blow clouds of smoke into Osage City

Last Call Heroes BBQ, Travis Duffy, Emily Wickstrom and their dog, Bernie, accept this year’s grand champion award at Smoke in the Spring, Osage City. Courtesy photo.

A strong Kansas wind blew more than 94 barbecue teams into Osage City last weekend. Only one team headed home as Smoke in the Spring’s grand champion. Claiming this year’s title in the April 9, 2022, contest was Last Call Heroes BBQ, with head cook Travis Duffy, of Pierre, S.D.

Duffy described winning Smoke in the Spring as a “bucket list” contest.

“It only takes one look at the past winners of this contest, the caliber of cooks it draws to the event, the community impact the event has, the size of the check you get for winning, it makes this one of the biggest KCBS contests of the year,” Duffy said. “We’ve struggled a bit here in the past, but it takes a very technical cook and some luck to have a chance in a field of both teams and judges that are tough. But we just keep diggin’!”

The South Dakota team competed against 93 other teams from 11 states in the Osage City contest, which celebrated its 19th year this year.

Last Call Heroes BBQ won the grand champion designation with 700.0228 points, taking first place in ribs, fourth place in chicken, 28th in pork, and 37th in brisket. With the win, the team also won recognition for placing in the “700 Club”, which means they earned over 700 points in the competition.

Taking the reserve grand champion spot was a team from Gardner, Kan., High i Que BBQ, with Randy Vanslyke as head cook. The reserve champ team won by placing 43rd in chicken, fifth in ribs, fourth in pork, and 15th in brisket, totaling 699.9772 points.

Winning third place was another team from Gardner, Fergolicious BBQ, with head cook Richard Fergola, a veteran Smoke in the Spring competitor. Fegrolicious took 40th in chicken, seventh in ribs, 20th in pork, and secured their third place spot with second in brisket, totaling 699.3600 points.

None of the top three winners had a coveted “180” score or a perfect score, but the judges seemed to really like the chicken put before them, giving out two 180s to the first and second place chicken winners, respectively, Wood Hook BBQ, Bois ‘d Arc, Mo., and Go Pig or Go Home, Lee’s Summit, Mo.

Two other 180s were given during the contest: Pit Crew BBQ, Wakarusa, Kan., won a 180 and first place in pork; and Bohica BBQ, Glidden, Iowa, earned a 180 on the team’s first place brisket.

Several past grand champions also competed during this year’s windy and cool competion, including three-time Smoke in the Spring grand champion Travis Clark, of Yukon, Okla., 14th overall; Dustin Reese, Hogline BBQ, Owatonna, Minn., fourth overall; and John Beavers, Grillin’ Beavers, Thornton, Colo., 47th overall.

In addition to the 94 teams competing, the popular competition also drew about 105 certified barbecue judges and table captains from all over the Midwest.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned contest also included a separate steak competition this year, the second such competition sanctioned by KCBS under newly developed rules for competition. Winning the steak competition against 12 other competitors was Pit Crew BBQ, Wakarusa.

The competition also include a “Turkey Smoke” with 37 competitors. Pirates of Bar B Que Bay, Olathe, Kan., took first in turkey, which is judged as an ancillary competition category and sponsored by the National Turkey Federation.

Smoke in the Spring winners: Randy Vanslyke, High i Que BBQ, Gardner, Kan., reserve grand champion; Travis Duffy, Last Call Heroes Championship BBQ, Pierre, S.D., grand champion; and Richard and Marcy Dukart Fergola, Fergolicious BBQ, Gardner, Kan., third place, April 9, 2022. Courtesy photo.

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